The Situation:
I am organizing the labels for street names. In order to get the positioning correct, I converted the feature labels to annotations. This has allowed me to hand-craft the positioning of the labels, which was the desired result.
However, (to my knowledge) these annotations are now unable to scale with the feature.
For example: My 1:1 Print zoom looks excellent, but zooming in on a feature, the annotation remains at Print scale and appears giant at the new zoomed scale.

The Question:
Can I convert these annotations back to feature labels and maintain their new hand-crafted positions?

I am using a "Basic" license. This means I do not have access to the Feature-Linked Annotation.
It is not a problem if the Street Name labels/annotations remain separate from the Streets Feature. The main issue is keeping the scale of the label-to-street ratio when I zoom in or out.

I want to place each street label by hand and have those labels scale accordingly with the Streets feature layer. (Add and Remove labels with free range of motion)

3 Answers 3


Label will be placed on the fly by ArcGIS, and you'll have very little control without Maplex. If you want full (manual) control, you need annotation. If you are happy with a fixed anchot, you could convert your annotations to point (Feature to point), but this requires ArcInfo.

So the workaround depend on what you really need.

If you are on the interactive view, you can create several (3 to 5 could be enough) sets of annotation for different scales and modifiy the properties so that your annotations only display for their scale range (see here)

Another workaround is to use the layout view, and zoom in/out on the layout with the tools available on he layout toolbar. This way you will zoom on your map as if it was a paper map (your annotation size will grow, but also the lines around your features)


Annotation is generated at one particular scale and does not change. The way to get around this on multi-scale maps is to generate annotation at a number of scales (for example, the ArcGIS Online Tiling Scheme shows the scales used for most web maps, you can find it at \Desktop10.2\TilingSchemes\ArcGIS_Online_Bing_Maps_Google_Maps.xml).

Then add a scale range onto each annotation layer so that only one is visible at a time.

The Tiled Labels to Annotation tool makes this process simpler.


To preserve Annotation aspect ratio so you can zoom in and out without trouble:

  • Right-click "Layers" in the Table of Contents
  • scrollto "Reference Scale"
  • select "Set Reference Scale."

Be sure you are at the scale (zoom level) that you want the final map and labels to be (for printing).

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